Why are so many ex-Clinton officials running for office?

Taking stock of people and ideas in the news.
March 1 2002 10:42 AM

The Clintonista Candidates

Gov. Janet Reno? Sen. Erskine Bowles? Rep. Rahm Emanuel?

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But if you want to find the most Clintonian of the Clintonista candidates, you must drop a few levels in status and a generation in age. Andrei Cherny, a former Gore speechwriter, is running for state Assembly in California's San Fernando Valley. Here we see Clintonism as Clinton practiced it. Cherny is only 26 years old, demonstrating that same alarming tyro ambition that Clinton showed. Cherny shares Clinton's mania for policy and politics. He has already written a best-selling policy book, The Next Deal. He has the kind of campaign organization and endorsement list that would make a Senate candidate envious. His public statements have achieved that spinny, euphemistic glossiness it takes most politicians generations to master. Cherny can triangulate like the Champ, too, proposing stricter rules about probation, supporting charter schools, and—this is a hard one—favoring less traffic.

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Cherny has the Clintonian genius for exaggeration and brazen self-promotion: He calls himself a "White House speechwriter" when he was a vice presidential speechwriter. (He also describes himself as the "youngest White House speechwriter in all of American history." The "all" in that phrase is a perfect touch—redundant and shameless.) When Clinton said of Cherny in a speech, "I wish him well," Cherny trumpeted it as a full-throated cheer for his campaign, calling the president's anodyne sentence "enthusiastic … praise." It is Cherny, not any of the famous Clintonista candidates, who is Clinton's truest heir.

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